A specific dream from my childhood still returns to haunt me from time to time, although never with the intensity of that first encounter. I believe it is right to call it an encounter because I’m sure, on that day, I met something real, either physically or conceptually.
I was half asleep on a sofa in my grandparents house in Alexandria, Scotland. Tessa, our large black Doberman dog could have been laying next to me. I cannot remember for sure but it wouldn’t have been uncommon.
Whatever I was dreaming about, if I was at all, gradually faded revealing another layer of experience. It is in this realm where I became aware of the phenomena that has been with me to this day. Strangely, only now, as I ride on the Nanjing subway some 30 years later, has the significance of that experience entered my conscience awareness. And perhaps I owe a nod to Borges, whose words may have helped to decrypt those old fragmented memories.
The object felt heavy and overbearing, too big for my current physical scale. I wanted to inspect it, but when I looked around the vast, empty horizon I was forced to seek on smaller and smaller scales. There, looking into my hands while curled up on the sofa, I believe I found it. Not on my hand or between the fingers but within one of the the tiniest of lines amung the uncountable faint lines that crisscross the skin. Not that I could give any detailed description of its visual characteristics, since it seemed surrounded by an impenetrable haze.
How could this thing, smaller that my visual perception would allow, at the same time loom over me with such mighty weight and almost infinite extension?
It was heavier and larger than I dared to imagine but as small and light that it could be lost in my own hands. It would be wrong to begin trying to identify it by listing those things that are lighter than it and those that are heavier than it, to thus arrive at some constrained possibilities. It was not heavy in relation to some things and lighter in relations to others. It was both lighter and heavier in relation to itself.
The dream was not pleasant. There was a nightmarish aspect that lay in my endless oscillation between the two states of experiencing the object as either large and massive or small and light. Yet I am sure that it was not the one who was changing.
I woke in a cold sweat.
Many years later I learned that all matter is composed of infitesimal vibrating loops of energy. This may or may not be related.